Before we’d made it to February, I had already written off 2011. The year started with my dog dying, the road to the end being horrific enough that it haunts me still, and a week later someone tried to assassinate my congresswoman, killing 6 others and wounding her and a dozen others. She’s still recovering. And what’s more, everyone I talked to had their own evidence that 2011 was starting off to a roaringly shitty start.
As I pondered writing something retrospective as we come to the close of this year, I was startled to remember that I felt that way at the beginning of it. Not that I’d forgotten that the year started out so bad; I miss my Monte dog every day, and I just finished reading Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, written by her husband. But I’d forgotten the feelings of dread and despair that dogged me from January through early spring.
That is the strange gift of time. People like to say “time heals.” I don’t necessarily agree with that; I think it’s what we choose to do with the time that heals us. But I do think that time is sandpaper that works away the sharpest edges and snags from the things that hurt us and trip us up, shaping and smoothing them into something we can manage to carry in our bare hands as we go forward.
It’s been a good year in that I got to sing on the album of a band I’m a genuine fan of, and start my own band, something I’ve wanted for years, and go up to Portland to (finally!) hang out with an internet pal, and I’ve seen some great concerts. It’s been a rough year in that, in addition to the above, I lost a friend for reasons I am not privy to, had a beloved friend face (and beat!) the big C, and the chronic pain that’s been amply chronicled here, here, here, and most recently here, hasn’t really let go of me. I suppose, when I tally it like that, it wasn’t a particularly bad year. It was just…a year.
I spent the fall trying to get some help with my pain, starting at the pain clinic with injections that seemed to help amazingly at first, but the effects didn’t last beyond a few days, and by the end of the process, they didn’t help at all, and I was left scarred, literally, across my lower back. My own doc wasn’t any help, and the rheumatologist he referred me to had little to offer beyond commentary that I’d seen the best in town already, and a prescription for one thing that didn’t work, one thing I didn’t want to try, and a third that seems to have helped a bit. But if there’s a miracle cure out there for me (and at this point I don’t believe there is), there’s no one with an M.D. after their name who’s going to help me find it.
Despite the Celebrex and some exercises for my SI joints I found on the internets and the ongoing chiropractic and massage that have kept my pain at reasonably tolerable levels for the most part, I was still finding that sitting at work all day, 40 hours a week, was uncomfortable on the best of days and unrelenting agony on the worst. This, as you might imagine, had a deleterious effect on the rest of my life; it took all I had to survive the work week, and everything else I wanted to do, I had neither the energy or the physical competence to accomplish. And that was the one thing I hadn’t addressed.
So it is that I find myself, nerd from birth and the complete antithesis of jockhood, having something in common with NFL players of a certain age, in that I’m retiring from the game for much the same reasons they do: my body just can’t take the punishment anymore. But while they leave the field to get some rest, I’m leaving my cubicle to get busy: to move, and stretch, and do, because that’s what my body needs so that I can live my life—all of it. They’ve hired my replacement, my cubicle is nearly cleared out, and Tuesday’s my last day.
It’s rather unfortunate that it’s come to this, that I’m such a hopeless cripple that I have to choose between my physical well-being and my job. But I am fortunate that I actually have a choice, and a supportive husband that is making this possible. And I have plans, oh yes I do…my project list grows by the day. I am optimistic for 2012 in a way I haven’t been in a long time. So farewell, 2011; I won’t miss ya.